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Proposal for Protection from Gay Conversion Therapy

by Redaktie in Health & Body , 22 April 2019

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Treatment whereby therapists attempt to ‘cure’ homosexuals of their sexual orientation or gender identity should be legally banned. This was the plea made by the Dutch political party D66 in the Dutch Lower House, according to the Dutch current affairs programme Een Vandaag.

The Dutch gay interest group COC has been aiming for this kind of protection for many years, and is very happy with D66s proposal. Attempts to alter a person’s sexual or gender identity through therapy is, according to the COC, pointless, and ‘conversion therapies’ can lead to serious psychological damage. The COC pleaded for a ban as far back as 2013 in a letter to the Minster of Health when the organization ‘Different’ offered treatments that could be reimbursed by Health Insurers. Thanks to the COCs repeated insistence, this kind of reimbursement was soon ended.

D66 Member for Parliament Vera Bergkamp has called on the cabinet to investigate if such therapies are still being prescribed, and if this turns out to be the case, D66 is in favor of a ban.

In the current affairs programme Een Vandaag, Bergkanp said that “It only makes matters worse when you try to convince people who are struggling with their faith and homosexuality, that they can be cured of their orientation. Young people should be supported in accepting themselves completely, and gay conversion therapy is in contradiction to this. I call on the minister to launch a thorough investigation into the matter. Accordingly, we should do everything possible to legally protect our youth from this kind of therapy.

Doctors warn: treatment extremely damaging

The government coalition party D66 especially wants to protect minors from these controversial practices. Bergkamp said “Young people in particular, who are already extremely vulnerable, should not be exposed to these kinds of damaging treatments. It is our job to protect them from these treatments, which in this case that takes precedence over the freedom of religion”.

Doctors are also concerned about these conversion therapies and the damaging effect that they can have. Jeanne-Marie Hament from the Dutch Medical Union of Physicians for the Treatment of Adolescents, said in the current affairs programme that “These treatments suggest that someone is sick, which is not only discriminatory, but may also lead to extreme loneliness and suffering in young people who are struggling with their sexual orientation. It is a form of charlatanism that needs to be legally banned”

Exact figures for the number of these treatments in the Netherlands are not available, and that is why Hament thinks that the matter should be investigated more deeply. “We really need to get a better picture in the Netherlands of these transgressions, which usually take place under the radar. This is why victims are currently not receiving the treatment they really need.


In the Netherlands, offering conversion therapy is not banned by law. In 2016, Malta was the first European country to introduce a total ban on these so-called conversion therapies. Currently Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom are preparing legislation to ban gay conversion therapy. In March of last year, the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution in which conversion therapy was condemned and the EU member states were called upon to ban these practices.

Gay conversion therapy has been condemned since 2013 by the World Medical Association (WMA). This international umbrella organization for General Practitioners said in a statement that these therapies are an example of ‘medically unethical practices’ and even went as far as to advocate sanctions against doctors who prescribe them. In 2016, the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) condemned the employment of conversion therapies. In the United States it is now illegal in 13 states to expose minors to these therapies. The state of New York and Washington DC even have gone as far as to introduce a total ban on conversion therapies, making it illegal to offer them to adults as well.



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